City of Vicksburg approves amended resolution closing Riverfront Park

Published 2:04 pm Friday, March 11, 2022

A committee of up to eight members will determine the design for a new park to replace Riverfront Park under an amended resolution closing the 33-year-old park, which was the most-used park in the city.

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the resolution at its Thursday meeting. It initially voted to close the park on Feb. 7. The Warren County Board of Supervisors voted to close the park on Feb. 22 with a provision that a committee or panel be appointed to determine the design of the new park, requiring the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to amend its resolution to include the committee.

The resolution does not include a timetable for the committee’s selection but recommends former city human resources director Fermika Smith serve as co-chairman with Parks and Recreation Director Rick Daughtry and board members serving as ex officio members. It also allows the city to recommend other committee members.

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The proposed new park would be located on 5.5 acres of land at the corner of Lee and Oak streets offered by Golding Land Company LLC that overlooks the Mississippi River and the Golding Barge Lines offices.

The city and county, which jointly operate and manage the park and share the costs of maintenance and repairs, decided to close Riverfront Park after Stantec, which the city hired to perform a study of the park and its problems, told a joint meeting of city and county officials that it would be in their best interest to abandon that park and try to look for another site.

The engineers could not guarantee or predict the city and county would not have to spend any more money on the park to mitigate problems caused by the Mississippi River because of the river’s current.

Flaggs said at a September meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen that since 2008, the city and county spent more than $1 million on slide problems. He called a proposed plan to fix the park’s four erosion-damaged areas a “Band-Aid,” adding the engineers also pointed out there was a spring in the area that could also cause problems.

The city and county own part of the current park and lease the northern section of the park from the Cashman family. The property was acquired in 1989.

The park was developed with federal Land and Water Conservation funds, which means if the park is closed, the city and county will have to reimburse the money used for the park project — unless a piece of property of equal or greater value than Riverfront Park is found.

Board of Supervisors President Kelle Barfield said the value of the proposed Golding property “far exceeds” the value of the Riverfront Park site.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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